Monday, 25 August 2008

A 2012 Olympic Cynic's Opening Ceremony

Shanghaied into watching the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics with my partner (I was born missing the sporting gene), I was expecting a prancing dragon and a couple of fire crackers, but found myself swept away by the sheer opulence, originality and grandeur of the event. The Chinese had evidently taken their time on the world's stage deadly seriously and were not about to miss out on their opportunity to impress the watching globe to the max - to the point where you wondered how many Beijingers may have died or suffered to make it possible to pour that degree of an economy's revenue into an event which would pay it minimal dividends other than in international kudos. As for the amazing purpose-built venues, how many citizens' houses were swept away to create them? Were they adequately compensated? What will they be used for after this weekend? Somehow I can't see Mick Hucknall filling The Bird's Nest on his next world tour.

The sheer spectacle of this Olympics naturally leads to the question, how will Britain compete in 2012? On any level, not least as we have just been told the finances have been scaled down and not a penny more than £9.35 billion will be spent. As for our £400,000 2012 logo (bottom), it looks like a 1980s High School art project and 80% of the British population loathe it!

Nor am I looking forward to our opening event; The Complete Standstill of the Underground Tube System or some of the spectator sports such as 'Can you last two hours until it's your turn for that WC cubicle?' or 'Buy The Last Congealed Burger in the Olympic Village for £20 or Starve' As for choreographing the acrobatic display of our LED light-suited Beefeaters and the Metropolitan Riot Police Sychronised Swimming Team for the closing ceremony, methinks that'll need some work.

And let's face it, Londoners may as well just book a month's holiday and let their homes out for the duration of the London Olympics, making the day of all the newly-built overpriced hotels that the remainder of the East End is being bulldozed, er, sorry, 'regenerated' to erect. To expect that London will be able to function on anything more than skeleton level during the games is ludicrous. In fact it is ludicrous to stage the Olympics in one of the world's most overcrowded cities in the first place in a country renowned for grinding to a halt at the slightest excuse.

Besides which Milton Keynes needed it far more, and has already bulldozed all architecture of any worth in readiness.

On a separate topic, once all athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs in order to have any chance against rivals who already are, will that make the Olympics a 'level playing field' again?


Can Bass 1 said...

Personally, I'm all over in favour of Olympics on the cheap. Frankly, those opening/closing ceremony-thingys have got out of hand. And when they dubbed that poor girl with thr crooked teeth...

KAZ said...

After the mindblowing (but boring) performance of the Chinese I hoped that our GB offering would come as a refreshing surprise.

But - NO - it just looked like amateur night.

Leona Lewis and Jimmy Paige just didn't cut the mustard for me.

teeni said...

I laughed through most of your post, all the while realizing that it really isn't funny when you think about it. It's actually quite scary.

The Sagittarian said...

Maybe they could get you to write and perform, I am sure that would add heaps of class to the event! (And I'm not being flippant either)

I agree, the opening/closing things have almost taken over (not that the sponsors would allow that to really happen) which brings me to my next point...what REALLY is an Olpympic sport? Not many of the "modern ones" my humble view that is. Today a chap came round our office building selling chocolate to raise funds for the Special Olympics...I love chocolate so any excuse really but i did buy some on the feeling that perhaps the competitors for the Special Olympics may actually still have that true Olympic spirit.

Steve said...

I'm more than happy to offer my home town of Leamington Spa as the 2012 Olympic village. We have outside toilets and a tea room. The athletes will be well sorted.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

CB1, you are not wrong there, these ceremonies have become ridiculously extravagant.

Kaz, well at least no one can touch the Brits for staggering displays of incompetance. Or even just 'staggering' displays!

Teeni, you are right - when life goes beyond parody it is no joke in reality.

Sagittarian, you are so kind, but if I really were the Poet Laureate of Britain, I'm afraid I would have to confront real writer's block struggling to find something good to say about the whole Olympian thing as I know what it costs to stage (on every level) and what the consequences to ordinary Londoners will be. However do send you chocolate seller round to my office anyway!

Steve, sorry but Leamington's way too nice to ruin (well architecturally at least!)I forbid it.